Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator
In his excellent 1999 novel Starfish, science fiction writer Peter Watts wrote about "cultured brains on a slab" - a "head cheese" - that could pilot a plane as well as a person. Now, University of Florida scientist Dr. Thomas DeMarse has created a "brain in a dish" that can interact with a computer flight simulation.
(From Science Daily)
The "brain" is a small puddle of 25,000 living neurons taken from a rat's brain and cultured in a glass dish.
"It's essentially a dish with 60 electrodes arranged in a grid at the bottom," DeMarse said. "Over that we put the living cortical neurons from rats, which rapidly begin to reconnect themselves, forming a living neural network – a brain."
The individual neurons are distributed randomly at the beginning of the experiment, and are not connected. The aircraft simulation of an F-22 fighter jet feeds data into the grid about flight conditions; whether the plane is flying straight and level or not. The neurons begin to organize themselves, forming connections to each other. The neurons analyze the data and respond by sending signals to the plane's controls.
At first, the simulated plane drifts randomly. But the neural network slowly learns; currently, the brain can control the pitch and roll of the simulated craft in most weather conditions, including storms and hurricane-force winds.
DeMarse points out that, while computers have fast processing speeds, they can't approach the flexibility of the human brain. Certain kinds of computation, like recognizing a previously unseen piece of furniture as a table or a lamp, is difficult to program into a computer. Peter Watts points out this very same fact in his choice of living neurons as pilots:
Humans had always been able to integrate 3-D spatial information better than the machines that kept trying to replace them...
Read the original stories here and here. Read a short bio on Thomas DeMarse, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida's School of Biomedical Engineering.
Until now, apparently...
(Read more from Starfish smart gels)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/25/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 24 )
Related News Stories -
Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
''The math boys worked it out...' Pournelle and Niven, 1981.
Legal Profession Now Fairly Bristling With AI
'The virtual counsel appeared to be about forty-five years old and prosperous.' - Greg Bear, 2007
Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’ Amitav Ghosh, 1995.
Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...' - William Tenn, 1951.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Surface Film Repels All Bacteria
'Most gentlemen's and ladies' gloves nowadays were constructed of infinitesimal fabricules that knew how to eject dirt...'
Chinese Steal American Seeds From Our Fields
'The Iszic maintain a jealously guarded monopoly...'
Rise Of Skywalker Could Trigger Epileptic Seizures
'... then the screen started to flicker. I stared at it for a while.'
Singing Ringing Tree Wind-Powered Sculpture
'It was like no music Dirk had ever heard, It was eerie and wild...'
Extremophile Microbe Loves Space Rocks
'... designed for rooting in the metal make-up of the asteroids for vital elements.'
Magic Mushroom Nose Spray From Silo Wellness
'I don't need help... that's not my diagnosis!'
CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater
'...in the midst of this fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could not go far.'
Space Domes Over-rated? Science Fiction Authors Have Answers
'This was to be roofed over, sealed, and an atmosphere provided...'
Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'
Autonomous Wheelchairs Improve Airport Mobility
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'
HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Very quiet commuter plane offers VTOL service.
Frictionless Toilet Could Save 140 Billion Liters Of Water
'The bowl was a frictionless surface...'
Viisights AI Hones Video Surveillance
'The math boys worked it out...'
Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
'It drew its power from... sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
''... major cities of Earth have free electrical power conveniently processed from their own noise.'
Unsinkable Metal Latest Gates Obsession
'A metal... light as cork.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories